Laboro ergo sum (I work therefore I am): The effects of occupation characteristics on psychological characteristics and nonwork outcomes
Dang, Carolyn Thi
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This dissertation examines the transformative effects of occupations on individuals. I begin by examining a prominent theory in organizational behavior that focuses on the effects of occupations on individuals: the Job Characteristics Model (JCM). I build upon the main arguments in the JCM, and draw from the plasticity perspective of human design to propose an alternative model for how and why occupations affect individuals. The crux of my theory is that occupation characteristics engender the development of psychological characteristics that facilitate individuals' performance of their occupation. I draw from the work-family research stream to then suggest that the transformed psychological characteristics carry over to influence individuals' non-work behaviors and attitudes. Specific hypotheses are presented regarding the relationship between occupation characteristics, psychological characteristics, non-work outcomes, and the moderating roles of occupation tenure, occupation mobility, and social support. The hypotheses are tested in two studies using two nationally representative databases: the General Social Survey (GSS) and the Occupation Information Network (O*NET). Findings suggest that certain sets of psychological characteristics--particularly individuals' values--are susceptible to shaping and molding by occupation characteristics. This shaping then has an effect on non-work outcomes, specifically those that are most directly related to the intermediary psychological characteristics. Broader implications for theory and practice are discussed.